Hollywood Dreams – Part I : Vijay Lama

June 16, 2014 , by Jerusha Rai, 3 Comments
Hollywood Dreams – Part I : Vijay Lama » My Dreams Mag


Ambitious All-rounder: Vijay Lama

Vijay Lama must have one of the coolest CVs to offer. His job titles are not only versatile but are some of the most adventurous and ambitious careers out there. Lama is an experienced pilot, actor, songwriter, musician and tennis player. Even more impressive than his diverse repertoire is the fact that he hasn’t merely dabbled in these fields but excelled at them. Lama has coveted achievements to his name; being a Boeing 757 commander, around 34 years of acting and media experience, song-writing for major feature films are just some of his well-known successes. How does he do it?

In this interview, we delve deeper into Lama’s personal struggles and his secrets behind excelling at everything you do. DREAMS zeroes in on his present focus on acting and further explores the makings of this all-rounder.


What brings you here to London?

Basically for work relating to a Film. Its a Hollywood project. At the moment, its working title is ‘Everest’. But it might change as there is another documentary with the same name. This is a multimillion dollar project working with Josh Brollin, Martin Henderson, Jake Gyllen-hall, John Fox and Sam Doherty.


Where are the shootings happening?

Pinewood Studios, It’s a same building where James Bond movies are made.


How are you feeling about this experience?

I have gone to the zero level now. I have been in this industry for 33-34 years but when I started with this team, I felt as if I have just started.


Why do you feel so?

It’s not because I am not good enough, neither because there aren’t good artists in Nepal. But, the commitment to work, the environment and the attitude that I have found here is not there in the Nepali film industry. Had this been in the Nepali film industry, I can see that our film industry would have moved quite further ahead. This is one thing which has taken me to the different level. And, now, I can feel, I am learning to be a professional.


You said you have been in this industry for 33 years, and you are saying that you have just started to learn to be a professional?

It basically means I have lost many years.


Do you feel sad about it?

No, I don’t feel sad because we are still learning. But it’s time we moved fast. I have gathered that we have limited ourselves in big talks but not in action. We haven’t been action oriented. We talk too much about big ideas. We talk about big stories, but at the operation level, we do nothing.


Is this your first time experience of working with non-Nepalis?

No I have worked on documentaries of History channel called Most Dangerous Airports of the World. I have also worked, recently, for Channel 4 of the UK, for Aeromedia Films who made another documentary called Most Extreme Airports of the World. This will be releasing on May 2014. I have also worked with Himalayan Amateurs in the play called ‘The Striders’.

Bijay Lama

Do you feel the role you have landed yourself with this film, Everest, has fulfilled your dreams?

Your dreams are never fulfilled; you have one dream which you fulfil, and then suddenly feel you have another dream. But this has definitely given me the platform to say that ‘I am living my dream now.’ I did dream of working for Hollywood and I am working for Hollywood, now working with some of the world renowned actors. The role that I have got in this movie is the one that I couldn’t have asked for more.


How does it feel to be with people who are world renowned actors, day in day out?

I feel no less. I am a Nepali born to lead, born to be an adventurer and, most importantly to be a good person.


You mentioned about one’s dream always grows, are you suggesting that we should not be living too long in the dreams that has already been fulfilled?

Yes, you definitely have to strive for something else. Life is all about striving for new things. If one dream of mine is fulfilled, and I lived on that dream for rest of my life, my life will become pointless and I am not going to do that.


Did you ever try to reach out ever before, out of the Nepali community?

Yes, I was nearly in Little Buddha (1993). About 20 years ago, I was nearly offered a role of Keanu Reeves but something didn’t work out but. However, I never gave up.


There are many people who try to get into Bollywood. Did you ever try to get into Bollywood?

Never, but they did ask me to try it out. They always wanted to bring me out as the replacement of Danny Denzongpa. I never wanted to be replacement for someone as legendary as Danny Denzongpa and I also wanted to have my own identity. Had there been a role without that comparison, may be, I would have thought about it.


What made you choose this field of acting and media?

My parents. My father started a movie called ‘Adarsh Naari’. I was in Germany, at the time. When I went back to Nepal, my father’s board members pushed me into this role in ‘Adarsh Naari’.


Can you please describe little about your experience in your first movie?

My first movie is probably the movie I cannot express too much feelings about. As it happened to be the movie my father made, it was a very difficult movie to do. Its a misconception to think that it’s easy to work in your father’s movie. Its actually more difficult.

It gave me an image of a person who became a star because of the movie his father produced. It took me more than 10 years to shake off that image. People also accused that my father brought his good for nothing son to the movie industry.


Did you always want to be an actor?

No, I fell into it. It was completely accidental career. Basically, I was much more into music. I used to do lots of rock and roll and sing lots of songs. But I always wanted to be an artist. However, I didn’t want to be a star. Once you become a star, people start worshipping you, give you all the accolades and one fine day, the stardom will not be there and it will vanish. So I wanted to be an artist – be a singer, be a player, be a writer.

Bijay Lama

Do you write as well?

Yeah, I write songs and I compose music too. I composed song called ‘Mujhe Teri Aankho Ki Geherai Mein Dubne Do’ for the Bollywood movie called ‘Pathshala’ starring Shahid Kapoor and Ayesha Takia. I have also composed two songs for recent Nepali movie called ‘School’, a Saroswoti Bandana and an English song.


So, which musical instrument do you play?

Basically, I am a pianist. I used to be taught by George Banks, father of Grammy-award nominated Louise Banks who is also known as the godfather of Indian Jazz. I learnt classical music too.


You said you wanted to be a player too. Did you play any sports too?

I used to be a national tennis player. Aamir Khan and I used to play tennis together in the Indian tennis circuit under 16. Aamir Khan used to be known as Aamir Hussain then.


Aamir Khan? The Bollywood actor?

Yes, the famous Bollywood actor. People who read this might see me as a mad guy, and yes, I am mad and crazy. Because to get to the places you want to get, you have to be a little eccentric. And I am eccentric.


What I like about you is how down to earth you are and I am very comfortable talking to you.

Yes, I am. This is one thing I learnt from this project ‘Everest’ too. I am currently working with elites but they never show any attitude that we are used to in Nepal. Just because you have landed yourself a major role in a project doesn’t mean other people working for you mean nothing. If those people are not there, then you are nothing.


How did you end up doing well in so many different fields?

I don’t know. I only do whatever I do with diligence and I enjoy doing things. To me having quality time is doing something creative. Everybody is an artist. And similarly, I am an artist. I am a Boeing 757 Commander. I lead that aircraft and that’s art. I am a sports person, and that’s an art. I write, sing, play instruments; its all art. Everything that you do in life is an art. I am doing various different things at different times but if you round it up, I am nothing but just an artist.


So what was your inspiration when you were growing?

My inspiration was time and respect for time. I am always inspired by time. Of course my parents and family have been great support.


Were there any friends who inspired you?

No, there hasn’t been anyone of friends. I look at different people in the world. Different successful people and behind every successful person there is always hard work, dedication, discipline, drive and that passion to do something that is all within the periphery of time.


Did you ever feel that this field of art is not going to help you have better life?

What I can say is I have not been lucky. Hard work might not pay off straight away but its always what you need.


Tell us your story about hard times.

I have numerous stories about hard times. Regarding my career in flying I was in USA and worked my way through to earn my licence there. I worked as a security officer, as a dishwasher, as a waiter and so on. I still remember the first day I got the job in a Pizza Hut in Texas. Back then, I was this spoilt brat who had never washed his own cup. But on the first day because the dishwasher wasn’t working, this gentleman said ‘Vijay, today your job is to wash dishes’. That was a 12 hours shift. I was given gloves to wash the dishes but as I was never used to washing, I didn’t bother putting the gloves on. After 7-8 hours, I could feel those chemicals seeping into my skin. I went to the corner and started crying, wondering what I was doing here. There was this elder Korean lady who consoled me and hugged me. Then, I started to cry even more. I said to her that I wanted to go back but she said, ‘after suffering all this you want to go back? You should go back stronger and all grown up.’ And I stayed. In USA I used to work for 18 hours a day. And lost lots of weight. I am 5ft 11 inches tall but my weight was only 62 Kg.


Tell me any other story that you would like to share about being an artist and in art industry.

There were many challenges I had to face in art industry in Nepal. They never accepted me and left me out as an outcast. But they have their own reasons. I come from a different education system. It teaches you to respect what you do and what others do too. But that doesn’t happen in our society. In Nepali film industry everybody is barging into somebody else’s job. That was one of the biggest issues for me. Another one is you lose money like anything. Acting in Nepali movies, you are not making much money- sometimes you are losing money.


You had your own career as a pilot and you were still finding time to continue with your passion of acting. How did you do that? How did you find time to do this all?

In the early days I wasn’t as good as I am now. I was young and couldn’t be assertive but nowadays I am experienced and assertive too. I get the times from the directors and I give them my schedule and we work to match the schedule with each other.

When things got very hectic, I did a couple of movies and stopped for few years and came back to do a few more movies and stop again. That is why I haven’t got many movies. I think I have only 34-35 of them.

Bijay Lama

Tell me little bit about your childhood.

My childhood was a very troubled one. I was a very sickly boy. I used to go to school for one week and then be ill for 5 weeks. I nearly died four times due to very complicated chest problem.


Which School did you go to?

I went to St Xavier’s in Nepal and then to St Joseph’s In India and then I came back to go to Ratna Rajya college, Trichandra campus and then to US and that made me richer. Because I learnt about and got to work in a different culture.


Do friends and childhood influence how you grow up and what you become?

Yes they do but there are some people for whom it’s not that important. They are so focused on what they want to achieve, they already know what they want from a very young age.


Were you one of them?

Yes. Every time people criticised me, they looked down upon me. It was an extra incentive for me to do better, that’s what I have been doing.


Tell me little bit about your musical career. Is there any albums?

Yes, there is. My fourth album is on the pipeline. I have composed about 80-90 songs myself.


Going back to our grandiose mentality in Nepal, how do you think we can change that?

By doing the things like you guys (DREAMS) are doing. Inspiring people to perform and work hard not just to talk big things. By sharing these experiences. By being the catalyst of change where young generation can follow on to our footsteps. I am 50 years old and young generation should look at me and think if this old man can do it, why we can’t do it. Because new generation are so-so better. And I thank DREAMS for taking this story of mine to all the young generation.


Last question, how do you overcome all the difficulties on the way to your dreams?

With more hard work, period!


In Conversation with Ojesh Singh, in London.


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3 comments on “Hollywood Dreams – Part I : Vijay Lama

  1. Dipendra Nath Joshi says:

    I am very much inspired by this interview.
    I also want hollywood career, can i have that opportunity.

  2. suyogya M Tuladhar says:

    Vijay Lama, who has mastered every areas of his interest,is a true inspiration for all nepali youths.

  3. Neha Hada says:

    Its always great to be heard about Nepal and definitely about the Everest which is always the highest in the world.Vijay Lama who’s served our nation becoming a flying hero and giving an opportunity to explore different parts of the world.We know the EVEREST movie will take a number one place representing our country Nepal.Good luck and keep up the spirits.We just need to fly high.Jay Nepal.

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